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Interview With Neil Nathan

Neil Nathan “Be Still My Everbeaten Heart” (singer-songwriter/folk)

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It’s no wonder fans and the media can’t get enough of Neil Nathan: this first-rate folk-rock singer/songwriter has been taking the music industry by force since 2007 with his debut EP, Glide. Born in New Jersey and raised in New York, his musical role models include David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, and others. Nathan has also had multiple tracks placed on commercials and television shows, but he especially met great success with his stripped-down, pure cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Do Ya” in 2009. Not only is it featured on Showtime’s “Californication,” but more personally, Neil takes great pride in hearing from countless couples having his version be their first dance song at their weddings.

Neil Nathan puts the utmost value in writing music that speaks and touches the minds and hearts of listeners near and far. His latest single, “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart,” digs back to his folk-rock roots captured in “Do Ya.” Following “The Folly of War,” it’s the second song released in anticipation of his upcoming album Blue Sky Wide Open, and Neil has audiences hanging on his every word.

In the lyrics to “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart,” Nathan’s willing vulnerability shines through as he teeters in that moment just before one risks trusting another and opening themselves up to potential heartbreak. Accentuated by the moody americana guitar stylings of co-producer Thales Posella, there’s an intimate, self-effacing quality to Nathan’s words and shimmering vocal performance, reminiscent of Ron Sexsmith.

There’s no better way to stroll down memory lane w/ Neil Nathan than to go down the diverse visual rabbit hole his past music videos have to offer. Recording the “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart” video in his own home, he embraces the natural comfort and open opportunity to reflect by setting up a bedsheet video projector screen. He goes through his past with multiple clips from former videos, sure to make longtime fans nostalgic. If there’s one thing to say about this song and video, it’s intimate and sentimental, and it makes in-depth connection effortless by letting everyone into his personal space and remarkable soul. At once, a reflective look back and a new step forward, Neil Nathan’s “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart” video, is his most personal work to date.

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When did you get into songwriting and making music? At what stage in your musical journey did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry professionally?

I started as a hard rock singer, it wasn’t until I picked up an acoustic guitar in my mid 20’s that I started writing songs, and a folkier, prettier voice emerged. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Economics and got into law school too. I’m grateful I realized at a relatively young age those career paths were not for me and decided to follow my passion. 

You are arguably best known for your 2009 cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Do Ya.” How does your newest single, “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart,” show your personal and artistic progress while still tapping into that creative milestone experience?

My cover of “Do Ya” brought out this sort of effortless soulful tone in my voice I hadn’t yet discovered, it really was a kind of magical surprise. And honestly, I think it took me the better part of a decade to catch up with it in my own songwriting and sound. I think there’s an intimacy,  vulnerability, and ease to my vocal tone and approach in “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart” that’s similar. But the proof is in the pudding, and I can thankfully tell from the positive responses of “Do Ya” fans, it’s in there. 

What was your inspiration for “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart”? What made you want to release this sentimental, vulnerable song to your audience base now more than ever?

Most of us have had our heart broken. It’s tough after that to dive into a new relationship and allow yourself to be vulnerable and trust someone new. This song is a meditation on that feeling. Be Still signals a return to that “Do Ya” intimate ethereal americana rock sound which is evident on the rest of the Blue Sky Wide Open LP and the video idea came about very organically, so I rolled with it. 

How does the music video help to deliver the nostalgia of your past? Why is it important to you to make such a deep and meaningful connection with your listeners and viewers?

I’ve always loved producing music videos, it’s a wonderful way to go deep with my songs and connect with them in a different way than writing and recording and playing them live. For the Be Still vid, we projected a montage of my past music videos behind me as I moodily reflect on my music career. Selfishly, it was a very positive reflective exercise for me! And thankfully folks are still discovering my old and new songs, so if they decide to dig a little further into my catalog this is a nice way to introduce ’em to it. Music has an incredible power to connect people emotionally and communicate beyond everyday language. I love attempting to do that with my songs and vids and hopefully they move folks. 

What was it like shooting the video at home, and what made this the best approach for the vibes you were trying to give off through “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart”?

This is one of the most intimate songs I’ve released, so it just felt natural to shoot it at home. And we did it during the pandemic, so it was also the safest approach. Directors Kevin Shaw and Cole Decker road tripped from Philadelphia up to my place, and we had a really fun weekend. Moving all my furniture downstairs to create a music video set was a very trippy experience. And I’m super grateful we didn’t break anything in the process!

Where does “Be Still My Ever Beaten Heart” fit into the overall theme for the Blue Sky Wide Open album coming soon?

Be Still is about taking a leap of faith and moving forward despite your fears. Anytime you release a new record into the world, it kind of feels like that! 

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